„But tadzik, aren't you always online?” I am, yes – but it used to mean something. Sorry for the clickbait. Read on.
Back in XMMP days (or Gadu-Gadu, or whatever your local equivalent was), we had statuses. You'd set these to Online, Away or something more descriptive like “Free for chat” or “Do not disturb”. There were some who didn't use them much, remaining in Away or Invisible forever (these people probably don't miss them), but if you wanted to, you could tell the whole world that you're there. Or not. DND was recognized as “this better be important or I'll get rightfully mad at you”, and FFC made everyone welcome to hit you up with a “what's up”, because you clearly have time to talk about nothing – or a need to vent.
You don't see much of that anymore. Everyone is constantly online, and the need for statuses has seemingly disappeared. But has it really? Toggling between online and offline may not be all that useful anymore, but along with that we lost a way to specify whether we want to talk or not. At best you'll get a green dot meaning only “they're looking at the screen right now”, or a note saying “last seen 10 minutes ago” – which could just mean that they woke up, checked the screen and went back to sleep. Combine that with the absurd amount of competing platforms, and your best bet at “hey everyone, I need to talk” is messaging every single person on every single platform and hoping that they respond.
I couldn't sleep a few nights ago. Ended up getting up from bed, pulling out my laptop and mindlessly scrolling through the internet to dull my thoughts. It would've been nice to have someone to talk to, but while everyone may be technically online, it's hard to say who'll be happy to get a notification at 3AM.
In the time when we need virtual pubs the most, the virtual pubs are empty. Or completely full. In either case, useless.